The American flag is a symbol of freedom, liberty, and justice for all. However, an upside down flag is often viewed as a “signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” Seeing an upside down American flag usually indicates that something has gone terribly awry. An inverted American flag can even be a sign of war. That’s why some people have been left feeling worried and concerned after noticing an upside down flag on display at a U.S. military base.
On October 3, a TikTok user who goes by the handle @highaf.onlife_ re-shared a video taken by another TikToker, @gregbullmorrow2.0. The brief clip shows two Navy Sailors saluting a flag that is flying upside down outside of a nearby military base. The video, which has gotten over 1.8 million views since October 3, has sparked panic for those who believe that the upturned flag comes with a hidden message. The clip features overlay text that says, “Very alarming,” along with the caption, “The Navy does NOT make these mistakes, and even if they do, they do NOT salute the flag in distress. This is ABSOLUTELY A SIGNAL. Get ready y’all.”
More than 2,500 commenters expressed their opinions on the interesting video, with some firmly insisting that the upside down flag can only mean that something bad is on the horizon. “Silent war has begun,” wrote one commenter, while another added, “I’ve never seen that before in my entire life.” Although a handful of viewers were convinced that the flag meant trouble, the majority of commenters revealed that accidentally raising an inverted flag is a common occurrence. Many commenters claim to either have served in the Navy themselves, or directly know someone who has.
“The Navy absolutely does make these mistakes. I’ve spent the better part of the last 15yrs [witnessing] these mistakes, including this exact thing,” shared one unbothered TikTok user. “Sailors 100% make that mistake. They are kids often doing colors. Stop reaching for clout content,” said another. One user even chalked up the incident to be the result Navy Sailors not getting enough rest, saying, “I swear civilians don’t be understanding how sleep deprived we really are.” Another commented added, “I’m in the Marines and this happens outside my unit at least one every other month.” Hundreds of commenters were quick to assure others that the upside down flag shouldn’t be cause for concern in this instance.
Several TikTok users throughout the comments section asked when this video was originally taken and if it is even legitimate. Of course, these are valid questions – especially because things are hardly ever what they seem on social media. The original video seems to have been uploaded by @gregbullmorrow2.0 on September 26, but there’s no telling if the clip was obtained elsewhere or if it even depicts two real Navy Sailors saluting the flag. Regardless of the video’s legitimacy, the viral video has managed to cause quite a panic for those who believe everything they see. While the inverted flag was likely just a mistake made by a young Navy Sailor, it’s safe to assume that conspiracy theorists are reaching for a more nefarious explanation of what is being shown in the video clip.